Ash Wednesday in Fresno was more international thanks to COVID-19 changes

Local News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Ash Wednesday started off the season of Lent for Christians leading up to Easter Sunday, as well as being a holy day of prayer and fasting. In the age of COVID-19, ashes were sprinkled instead of smudged to the forehead.

Father Paul Keller from St. Paul Catholic Newman Center said that practice is not that uncommon.

“Apparently it’s more common internationally to have them sprinkled on your head.  So, we’re not completely doing strange things today,” said Fr. Paul.

At Saint Paul Catholic Newman Center, full mass was held in the outside courtyard, but some parishioners stayed safer by skipping mass and walking up to receive the ashes.

“This whole year has been different and so I think the fact that we can still receive the ashes even if it’s in a different way, that’s COVID safe, that it’s still a blessing,” said Monica Baker, a parishioner.

Although the church has been practicing COVID guidelines since the start, it is the first Ash Wednesday during the pandemic. Deacon John Supino said the special day definitely had a different feel.

“Very unusual, I was just telling father after mass, it felt awkward rather than making a sign of the cross with the ashes – sprinkling and it was going everywhere. To say there’s been a change is an understatement.  It’s definitely different and I’m looking forward to it getting back to the new normal whatever that is,” said Deacon John.

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